"You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously."
I wish I could wear a sign around my neck that says "work in progress." Not so much for everyone else, but to constantly remind myself that grace and progress go hand in hand. I tend to try and make things black and white and when it comes to loving my body and working towards being my strongest self but you just can't have one without the other to have a healthy self-image and love for yourself.
I told y'all about a month and a half ago that I was starting a 16-week challenged and the longer I go on the more I realize that it's something that I want to let you guys in on. Yes, I'm seeing changes in my body because of the amazing nutritional re-balancing system that I use (15+ inches off my body, better sleep, and relief from terrible stomach issues I was having, holla!), and yes I'm getting more confident with each passing day, but what I'm realizing is that this is about so much more than getting that beach body or being as fit as I was when I was pole vaulting collegiately. It's not that those things are bad things to work towards, but I'm learning a lot about that little voice in my head. And as I sit here writing to you, I bet sometimes that same voice talks to you. So why not shed a little light into a dark corner of so many women's lives and tell that stupid voice that it actually doesn't have power anymore.
See, from age 5 to 21, I was an athlete. From soccer to gymnastics to basketball to track and eventually to track in college, sports were my thing. They were my home, one of my favorite parts of my life. Not many seasons went by where I wasn't on a field, court, or track daily with a group of girls who eventually turned into family each season. Early workouts, hard, make me want to puke my guts out workouts, big wins, sad losses, a million team hang outs....you get the picture. Truly, it was all I knew. I loved having a competitive edge and honestly enjoyed working out, especially because I had a group of people doing it with me. And let's be honest, it feels good to feel strong. We're made to be strong and feel our best/be our best.
Fast forward to the spring of 2013. I hung my track spikes up after a year of rehabbing from a terrible knee injury (I tore all the things-ACL, MCL, lateral & medial Meniscus, yikes) the previous spring. That season of my life was over and I felt ready. What I wasn't ready for was the complete 180 I would take following the decision to leave organized sports. Without warning, my life started to look really really different. I went from having a coach telling me when to work out, how to work out, how to eat, what to eat, when to eat, day-in-and-day-out, to having to find my own new normal. Have y'all been there?
Until I was 21, I had never struggled with self-image or food. I know that's a blessing because I know so many girls/women who have different stories. What happened after I quit track was that I completely went against everything I learned growing up when it came to taking care of my body. It was such a relief to be free from the rigidity of eating like an athlete and working out for hours on end everyday that I just stopped those things all together. I stopped working out. Honestly my eating didn't really change but because I wasn't working out for 2-3 hours everyday, I started seeing that I was never necessarily fueling my body in the best way.
For the next two years, the daily dialogue I had with myself changed. It became less and less positive everyday and eventually got to the point where I was telling myself things like, "You'll never be as strong as you were in college.", "your best days are behind you, Marissa.", "It's all downhill from here. You'll never feel confident or strong in this body again." And you know what the saddest part of this was? I really began to believe these lies. Praise the Lord I woke up one day and realized how sad this was and how untrue these things were. So I finally did something about it.
I had a friend who introduced me to a nutritional re-balancing system and I told her a year and a half prior that I would never try it. I was always against "those things". But I got to a point where I was willing to try anything because I knew my body needed a change (and let's be real, there was a 30-day money back guarantee, so no risk for me), but more importantly I needed to remember who I was, that I am still strong, and that my best days are ahead. So I finally said yes. And you know what? It wasn't a scam. It wasn't fake. It wasn't a scheme. I saw changes in my body within the first few weeks. My energy changed. My confidence rose and rose. I started feeling my competitive edge come back and I recognized the old Marissa coming back around. I really missed her.
A year and a half later I'm still using that same system and loving it more and more each day. I decided to start a 16-week challenge because I'm still helping the old Marissa show her face more and more in my current life. And I felt like in this season this is the best way to love myself. I'm learning more about true balance, what healthy inner-dialogue looks like about my body, and remembering more and more that my strongest days are ahead if I want them to be; this is definitely one of those "mind over matter" deals.
To be honest, there's not a whole lotta reason why I'm writing this other than in hopes that maybe you don't feel alone. Or maybe that some of what I'm saying here resonates with you and your "me too" helps you realize that there's more room for you to love the body you've been given. I preach freedom and always encourage people to open up and share their story so I have to do that too. I hope this challenged you, encouraged you, and gets you thinking about how you can love yourself better. Because I really believe you're worth it.